MtG: 15 Best Theros Beyond Death Cards for Pioneer

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Pioneer is a brand new post-Modern format in Magic: The Gathering that includes sets starting from Return to Ravnica up to the current Theros Beyond Death.

It offers players the same complexity of Modern format but is more economically accessible to players. While Modern decks usually cost up to a $1000 each, similar decks in Pioneer will cost no more than your top-tier Standard deck. This opens up a lot of possibilities for tabletop tournaments and online platforms as well.

Pioneer definitely has its own flavor and its own set of established archetypes. So keep your eye out on these 15 best cards from Theros Beyond Death for this brand new MtG format.

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Klothys, God of Destiny

There are plenty of ways to remove an indestructible creature from the board, but it can be much harder to remove an enchantment, which isn't always an option for many decks in Pioneer.

It also looks like Klothys will mostly stay in its enchantment form, as it doesn't need to be a creature to utilize its drain effect. But decks like Gruul Aggro will definitely find a way to activate its creature side on turn three or four, which isn't a bad option at all.

Heliod, Sun-Crowned

Heliod, Sun-Crowned is another enchantment-creature card that can be used for a rather obvious infinite damage combo with Walking Ballista. Here's how it works:

  1. Play Forest and cast Llanovar Elves
  2. Play Plains and cast Heliod, Sun-Crowned
  3. Cast Walking Ballista for 2 non-white mana and play Radiant Fountain
  4. This will add another counter to Walking Ballista for a total of two
  5. Activate Heliod's Lifelink ability for the remaining two mana targeting Walking Ballista
  6. Remove a counter from Walking Ballista and deal 1 damage to your opponent
  7. This will trigger Heliod's passive ability targeting Walking Ballista, adding a +1/+1 counter to it
  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 for infinite damage

The only question remains: when exactly will Wizards of the Coast ban this combo in Pioneer?

Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis

On the surface, a new Elspeth planeswalker looks quite ordinary. But if you pay attention to the last row of the rule text, you will notice a brand-new keyword: Escape.

This new mechanic allows cards to return from your graveyard by paying an Escape mana cost in addition to exiling a certain number of other cards from your graveyard.

This means that Elspeth, Sun's Nemesis us basically immortal, and the only thing that can push it out of the game is the Exile mechanic.

Underworld Breach

Although this card is an enchantment, due to the requirement to sacrifice it at the end of your step, it actually works like a spell. But even then it's a very strong spell. It allows you to bring a good number of cards back from your graveyard in one turn. The only condition is that you already have enough mana and other cards in your graveyard to exile and pay for the Escape mechanic.

Underworld Breach can easily fit in any Storm or graveyard-based deck that is legal in the Pioneer format.

Whirlwind Denial

Counterspells get more and more complicated with each new MtG set. Whirlwind Denial not only counters spells but also triggers abilities that those spells might be possessing.

For example, if your opponent plays Hydroid Krasis, then you can easily counter it and all of its triggered abilities. It is well known that even if you counter Hydroid Krasis, it will still draw cards. But not if you use Whirlwind Denial  unless your opponent has some way of paying four mana for each trigger.

Even if this card won't see play in main decks, it will definitely become an excellent sideboard counterspell.

Thassa's Intervention

Let's talk about flexibility.

This instant spell combines two of the most powerful effects in MtG: card draw and counterspell. Of course, you can't use both sides, but that's where flexibility comes in  you use it according to your situation.

The first effect also plays around Narset's draw block ability, which is a big deal in Pioneer. This means that Blue-White Control decks may want to play Thassa's Intervention instead of the more typical Hieroglyphic Illumination.

The second effect is just as good and even stronger than most similar counterspells in the format. So it's a definite winner!

Shadowspear

This little artifact was created for one purpose: to make Bogles players feel miserable.

You don't even have to equip Shadowspear to use its second ability. All you need to do is pay 1 mana of any color, and Bogles players will concede.

Shadowspear is also great against decks that use indestructible God and Eldrazi creatures. Just imagine removing an Ulamog with a simple destroy mechanic for a couple of mana. That's the life Shadowspear promises in the new meta.

Ashiok, Nightmare Muse

The new Ashiok planeswalker isn't meant for pure Mill decks, but it can see play in Control and Midrange lists, ones that can put an opponent on a slow clock by steadily milling them out.

Ashiok, Nightmare Muse could easily replace Ob Nixilis in Dimir Control decks and would do a much better job at controlling the game.

The -7 ability looks super exciting, and it won't take you too long to get there. So there are definitely a lot of opportunities for Ashiok in Pioneer.

Dryad of the Ilysian Grove

Ramping is the first thing that comes to mind when looking at this card. Dryad of the Ilysian Grove could also work amazingly well with Scapeshift and Dread Presence for some devastating combos.

On the other hand, this card is more likely to see play alongside Hydroid Krasis and the new Uro creature. That's where Dryad of the Ilysian Grove will truly shine.

Of course, it works a lot better in Modern with cards like Valakut, but Pioneer players will find many good ways to utilize this excellent card, too.

Eidolon of Obstruction

Taxing opponents is always fun, especially if they're playing a lot of planeswalkers. Eidolon of Obstruction is a cool new toy for Death and Taxes lists in Pioneer. It will not change the meta, but it will have a solid run against all the Superfriends lists.

The taxing cost could have been a tad higher, but even now it's going to be really annoying to pay that extra mana each time they decide to activate a planeswalker's ability.

Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath

This card is so good that it will see play in every single MtG format that allows mythic cards, including Pioneer.

Uro has all the markings of a broken card, but not as bad as Oko, which finally got banned from all the formats except Legacy, Vintage, and Commander. This means that Uro will definitely find its place in most decks that run blue and green.

Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath will be especially good in Simic Ramp that runs Growth Spiral and Banefire, as well as in Sultai Dread Presence.

Thassa's Oracle

Here is a compulsory win condition card from Theros Beyond Death. This little Merfolk can win you games by simply looking at the cards from the top of your library.

Of course, devotion to blue color plays a huge part in all this, and that's why Thassa's Oracle will find a place in the Mono-Blue Devotion lists that run Thassa, God of the Sea and Master of Waves.

But Thassa's Oracle could also become the central spell in the self-mill lists that could easily trigger the win condition just as well.

Thassa, Deep-Dwelling

Thassa, God of the Sea now has a competitor in Thassa, Deep-Dwelling. The new Thassa isn't as aggressive, but she will play an important role in the Mono-Blue Devotion decks, although with a different angle.

Now every ETB effect can be repeatedly exploited at each of your end step, which can quickly turn into a disaster for your opponents.

Also, if you don't want to spend 4 mana on her last ability, then just use Merfolk Trickster and tap unwanted blockers at each end step for free.

Storm Herald

There are two ways Storm Herald could work wonders in Pioneer.

First, you can afford playing expensive and very powerful auras, such as Prodigious Growth and Spectral Ward, since you don't need to pay their mana cost with Storm Herald's ability. Just discard the auras with the help of Chart a Course of Merfolk Secretkeeper, and attack with Herald's haste.

Second, you can put this card in a self-mill shell with lots of cheap auras and Jace, Wielder of Mysteries, as your alternate win condition.

Purphoros, Bronze-Blooded

Since Through the Breach is not legal in Pioneer, Wizards of the Coast decided to give us Purphoros.

It's not a sorcery but an enchantment-creature with a slightly more expensive ability of Through the Breach if you take into account the additional cost of casting Purphoros.

In any case, with the help of this card, you can play huge creatures in red color, such as Ilharg, Combustible Gearhulk, Dragonlord Atarka, and many others without paying their mana costs.

Sure, they get exiled at the next end step, but you can still do a lot of damage while they're at play.

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In addition to this list of the best Theros Beyond Death cards for Pioneer, be sure to check out our other MtG guides below:

Published Jan. 16th 2020

Correspondent

Sergey has been a freelancer in the video games industry for more than five years, writing for various publications around the world. His favorite games are MtG, Dark Souls, Diablo, and Divinity: Original Sin. Sergey doesn't own consoles because a PC is all he needs.

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